Florida State Football: 5 Players Who Were Snubbed from Preseason All-ACC Team

Stephen FenechCorrespondent IAugust 5, 2012

Florida State Football: 5 Players Who Were Snubbed from Preseason All-ACC Team

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    The Florida State Seminoles appear to be the class of the ACC once again, but some of their premier players were left off the all-ACC preseason team. 

    While the Seminoles did have four players named to the all-ACC preseason team, they had a few other players that deserved to be selected as well. 

    Brandon Jenkins, who has compiled 22.5 sacks over the past two years, was named to the team as a defensive end. 

    Florida State's kicker Dustin Hopkins was also selected, as he is one of the best kickers in the entire country. The Seminoles will need Hopkins to be accurate when he is called upon in big situations, as his performance could decide how successful FSU will be this season. 

    Lamarcus Joyner is among the best safeties in the country, and a strong argument could be made that he is the most important player on the Seminoles defense. While Joyner won't lead the conference in interceptions, he is a devastating hitter that rarely finds himself out of position. 

    The final Seminole to be named to the team was Greg Reid as a specialist, but since then, Reid has been dismissed from the team and won't be returning punts in garnet and gold this fall. 

    Here are a handful of other players that also deserved the honor of making the all-ACC preseason team. 

Xavier Rhodes

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    While the dismissal of Greg Reid may slightly hurt Florida State's secondary, he wasn't the best cornerback on the roster prior to his release. 

    That distinction belongs to Xavier Rhodes, as he is projected to be a first-round pick in next April's NFL draft. 

    At 6'2", 209 pounds, Rhodes is considered to be one of the best coverage corners in all of college football. His size and athleticism gives him the ability to shut down the majority of receivers that he will face this season, and he deserved the all-ACC preseason nod. 

    Rhodes is on the preseason watch lists for the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy. The Bednarik Award is awarded to the best defender in college football, while the Nagurski Trophy is given to the country's best defensive back. 

    Rhodes isn't likely to lead the ACC in interceptions because FSU's opponents will focus on throwing the ball away from him. When offenses avoid a cornerback's side of the field, they are showing deep respect for that player's ability to make big plays. 

    In the NFL, that type of respect is only given to the elite corners like Darelle Revis and Champ Bailey. 

    While NC State's David Amerson deserved to be selected, Rhodes should have gotten the nod over Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller. 

    That isn't a knock on Fuller, who will have a great season for the Hokies, but Rhodes is bigger and better in coverage. Also, Fuller played a variety of secondary positions last season and is likely to play multiple positions again this season. On the other hand, Rhodes will be taking every snap at cornerback. 

    One theory as to why Rhodes was left off the team is that he was overshadowed by Reid, Joyner and the rest of FSU's talented secondary. 

    If this season unfolds the way that the Seminoles hope, then Rhodes will be playing on Sundays next fall, as he would have proved himself to be one of the best cornerbacks in the country. 

    I fully expect him to be on the all-ACC team that comes out at the end of the season to cap off an excellent junior year on the field. 

Bjoern Werner

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    Last season, Bjoern Werner compiled seven sacks as a sophomore and could double that total this fall as a junior. 

    Werner is 6'4", 265 pounds and appears to have unlimited upside because he is still refining his game. The German only played two years of high school football and is still working on the nuances that come with rushing the passer effectively. 

    He has the ability to blow by a tackle around the corner or bull rush through him on the way to the quarterback. Offensive linemen can't predict what Werner is going to do, which makes him even more difficult to block. 

    With Brandon Jenkins on the other side, offenses will have to pick which end they want to double-team. Basically, Jenkins and Werner are a nightmare for offensive coordinators because both are such dominant pass-rushers. 

    For Werner, the mere presence of Jenkins makes the game so much easier. While Werner would be the best pass-rusher on almost any other team in college football, he has slightly lived in Jenkins' shadow for the last year. 

    That will certainly change this fall, as I predict that Werner will finish the season with more sacks than Jenkins.  If he does that, then Werner will likely be selected to the all-ACC team that is released after the season. 

EJ Manuel

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    The time has come for EJ Manuel to prove that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the country, because it is now or never for the Seminoles. 

    While Manuel still has room to improve on the field, how successful he is this season will depend on whether or not he is able to stay healthy. 

    Last season, Manuel missed half of the Oklahoma game and the entire Clemson game due to a shoulder injury. It isn't a coincidence that FSU lost both of those games without the presence of their leader. 

    Clemson's Tajh Boyd was selected to the all-ACC preseason team over Manuel because the former is in control of a more explosive offense. 

    While Manuel is told to protect the ball and not put his world-class defense in unfavorable situations, Boyd has to throw the ball all over the field because the Tigers have to outscore their opponents.

    No one should forget that, in Orange Bowl last season, Clemson allowed a staggering 70 points to West Virginia. 

    Based upon team philosophy, Boyd should have better numbers than Manuel, but that doesn't make him a better quarterback. 

    Manuel is entering his senior year on a national title contender and should have been named to the all-ACC preseason team. As long as this year's offensive line is decent, Manuel will prove to the entire ACC just who the class of the conference is at the quarterback position. 

Timmy Jernigan

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    If Timmy Jernigan stays in school for the next couple of seasons, then he may be talked about as one of the best defensive lineman in Florida State history. You read that right, Jernigan has the chance to develop into a special player. 

    As a true freshman last season, Jernigan earned consistent playing time despite FSU's depth at defensive tackle. I expect Jernigan to see even more playing time this fall, as he has a season's worth of experience to draw from. 

    While Timmy only compiled 3.5 sacks, he also made six tackles that resulted in a loss of yards for the offense. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him more than double those numbers this fall because of the rest of the talent along the defensive line. 

    The Seminoles are deep along the defensive line and some would argue that the depth will cause Jernigan go lose snaps. As long as Jernigan stays healthy, he will get consistent playing time because he is one of the most talented defensive lineman in the ACC.

    In fact, FSU's depth will make it easier for Jernigan because opposing offensive lines will wear down against the constant physicality from a bevvy of talented defensive linemen. 

    Jernigan's ability to produce a pass rush from the interior will give him a chance to play on Sundays, and I wouldn't bet against him doing just that. 

Nick O'Leary

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    Nick O'Leary is poised to have a tremendous sophomore season, as he has had a full year to learn the system and work with EJ Manuel. 

    Rivals.com rated O'Leary as the best tight end in the 2011 recruiting class due to his combination of speed, size and strength. 

    At 6'4", 245 pounds, O'Leary is an excellent athlete who is too fast for linebackers, and too strong for safeties. Manuel will need to look for his tight end early and often this season, because he is a matchup nightmare for defenses. 

    While O'Leary only had 12 receptions for 164 yards last season, he showed glimpses of how great he could be for the Seminoles. It isn't crazy to think that O'Leary could be Manuel's favorite target this fall, especially on big third downs. 

    O'Leary will play the majority of the snaps at tight end because he is the only player on the roster who has experience at the position. This guarantees that the true sophomore will have every opportunity to become a major contributor this season, and he has the talent to do just that.